Jane’s Addiction ‘The Great Escape’ (EMM/Capital Records)CD/DL/Ltd Vinyl
Released 18th October 2011
You really get the feeling that they have nailed what they were hoping to achieve with textures and the Floyd-y, gothy, post-punk sound. I’ve waited 20 years for this album and finally I got it. The LA kings came back and got their crown.
Barring a few moments of the old magic (“So What” off 90s odds+sods compilation “Kettle Whistle” and “Hypersonic” and “to Match the Sun” off 2003’s “Strays”), the nineties and noughties versions of Jane’s Addiction never reached the heady heights they’d seen when they ruled the LA roost with the psychedelic-santeria-reggae-gypsy-metal-funk of “Ritual de lo Habitual” which came out in 1990.
This all changes with the release of “the Great Escape Artist”, the band’s first new material in 8 years, recorded throughout 2011 and released on Monday 17 October in the UK.
The signs were there in August when they slayed a Koko’s crowd in London, a gig that only got the greenlight after singer Perry Farrell’s voice returned following the cancellation of sets at Leeds and Reading (more of this later.) I’ve seen Jane’s every time they’ve come through the UK since I saw them support the Wonderstuff in 1990 (Miles Hunt was a huge fan apparently) and this was the best they’ve played in 20 years. Navarro and Farrell stalked the stage like panthers that had been let out of their cage. I’d *assumed* it was a result of being held back from playing but I *hoped* it was from being a band rejuvenated by recording together again. The set drew mainly from “Nothing’s Shocking” and “Ritual”, throwing in new song “End to the Lies” and climaxing with fan favourite, “Jane Says” (Perry didn’t need a voice by this point as everyone in there was singing.)
“End to the Lies” was the first sight of the new album and sounded great – a dubby, Floyd-y opening morphing into a driving guitar motif, some neat effects and some mutant funk and this was shortly followed by “Irresistible Force”, that has the swagger and expansive, singalong-a-chorus of Jane’s of old.
(A side note…the signs also looked good when Perry Farrell announced on twitter that he was doing the cover art as he had done for Nothing’s Shocking and Ritual after the lacklustre band picture on Strays (which was a result, apparently, of someone else doing cover art that was nixed at the last minute and replaced with a promo picture.)
And so onto the rest of the album…
Talk from the Jane’s camp had been that the album would feature few (one or two only) of Navarro’s trademark solos, that there was more atmosphere, that it had a kind of English goth/post-punk feel – Siouxsie and the Cure had been mentioned. Following the NIN/JA tour, where original bassist Eric Avery had rejoined the live band, but had left prior to recording, the band were down a bassist. Former G’n’R bassist Duff McKagen was drafted in and jammed with the band, contributing to some of the kernels of the new songs only to leave after 6 months. Wisely, TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek was brought into the fold to help record the album, writing some bass parts and inspiring the band in new directions.
I read once that Greg Dulli frontloaded all his albums with the catchiest songs to hook people in as he’d heard this was what Berry Gordy did with Motown releases, and “the Great Escape Artist” is much the same. You’ve been pummelled to the ropes by the amazing bass-heavy opener, “Underground” (site of one of the only Navarro solos) and barely is there a chance to recover before you face the singles “End to the Lies” and “Irresistible Force”. Calmer, more contemplative songs like “Twisted Tales” and tribal funk workouts like “A Reason” flow into almost poppy territory of “Splash a Little Water on it” and more dreamy introspection on “Broken People”. The final song, “Words Right Out of My Mouth” starts with Perry talking to a Doctor about his lost voice and quickly segues into a tight funk metal workout.
The production, from Rich Costey, is gorgeous. It’s hugely rich and textured and the bass is prominent, a bold move from a band that didn’t have a full time bassist for a lot of the recording (Avery replacement, Chris Chaney, who plays with the band live also features.)
You really get the feeling that they nailed what they were hoping to achieve with textures and the Floyd-y, gothy, post-punk sound. I’ve waited 20 years for this album and finally I got it. The LA kings came back and got their crown.